Mark of the Shadow Part 1: Marked
Here’s a little thing I wrote, after coming up with this in bed, when I should have been sleeping. I’m hoping by posting these it will get me to follow through and finish it. Also if someone thinks they could pull of reading this, a podcast of these would be awesome. Anyway, the characters do have names, you’ll learn them eventually. The title doesn’t make sense now, hopefully it will in the future, nothings final. Any feedback would be great, and I hope you enjoy it!
Daddy wasn’t a rich man. We weren’t so poor either, but when Uncle Sam came to us with the draft, Daddy couldn’t say no. So he sent me west along one of them fancy new box trains. Utah’s were I was headed. Supposed to have a few relatives there that could care for me, till the South got beat.
The train was a bizarre place, least it seemed it to me. Me being a girl of 10 I couldn’t understand why grown men were shootin down those wild wooly creatures. They wasn’t huntin, just shootin. Perhaps this was just the way it was. Men shoot those creatures hoopin and hollarin, just to do it. It’s why I was a bit frightened by the man who came and sat in my booth. He carried a gun, but he didn’t use it. Plus it looked all beat up before, like this man had been in a tumble with it. His face carried a welt, like he’d been branded with something, and his clothes looked a worse than any one else. He didn’t look the type to be travelin. I wondered if he was a deserter, Daddy had told me there was no hope for a deserter.
To my eyes though he looked a bit too scraggly for the war, wasn’t the army supposed to clean fellas up? I didn’t get a good look at his eyes, for the fact that he wouldn’t take his eyes off his gun, but his face didn’t look hard like the men who’d recruited Daddy. Besides the welt on his face, he carried a few more peculiarities. For starters, he had a strange necklace displaying a green creature with a long protrusion from his face, all curvy like. Second, he wore two bracelets with little feathers and beads all along it. It looked strange to my eyes but then again this was the first time I’d seen outsida Southington.
Daddy had told me to be brave, and to rest through the trip but to me those ideas were very different. I couldn’t rest with this strange man, not sitting two feet away. Besides these metal contraptions rattled more than one o’ them snakes I read about.
I was used to it, but the man seemed to get on edge every time the thing shook. I told him to calm down, but when I didn’t get nothin but a look I decided to keep my mouth shut. Soon enough though the man asked me where about I was from. I didn’t know what to say but the truth, so that’s what I did. The man nodded, and I wondered if he really cared. Then he asked me where I was headed, his voice was a little raspy, I thought maybe he just needed some water, so I fetched some from my pack as I answered.
He took the water with a look of gratitude, and drank more than I had bargained for. His voice didn’t seem to improve and I decided I had better wait to clean out my pouch before I drank from it again.
“You don’t want to go to Utah little miss,” he said handing me back the water-skin./
“And why not, uh, sir,” I replied a little annoyed over my water still.
“Just take my word for it, that somethin ain’t right there.”
“Take advice from a stranger? Now if there is one thing my daddy taught me, it was to steer clear of nameless vagabonds like you.”
“Well, the lady has a bite. But I think you presume a little much. I have a name, though if my parents taught me anything it was that women are to be feared, especially young uns,” he gave a playful smile, and set his gun down for the first time, revealing a knife across his belt.
My stomach turned, “Uh, so why, are you…” he must have seen me eying his knife, as he cut me off.
“Ah, don’t be scared of these tools, he said laying his hand on the knife. There only dangerous in dangerous hands.”
“And are your hands dangerous hands?”
“Why certainly, whats the point in carrying these around if I ain’t got the steel to use um.”
“Well then, why ain’t you shootin those furry creatures out there? Why you got to be all mysteriums?”
“I got my sights set on bigger pray than bison little miss,” he said just as the train shook violently sending his our bags toppling off our seats and loosing our things everywhere. As I sat and collected my things, including Daddy’s bible he stood up, grasping his knife tight.
“Here,” he said crouching down. He ripped off his necklace and placed it in my palm. It felt heavier than it looked and it was hot to the touch. “Keep this close to you. I’ll return. Pick up my things would you?”
With that he rushed out into isle. Just as I was getting everything together the train shook again, and more belongings cluttered the little room. I frantically began throwing things in my bag.
A gunshot. I through my bag onto the seat, clasped it shut, and looked at what was still on the floor. Some more strange talismans, a bible, and some bottles containing dried plants among other things. Frankly I didn’t see the point in putting his things back aft-
This time a scream followed the shot. I made sure that the necklace he had given me was tight in my palm. It was, and I squeezed it tighter.
I climbed up onto the seat and hugged my knees to my chest. I waited for a third shot, but it didn’t seem to come. I began to edge my way off the seat. One foot down, two feet. I slowly moved towards the door.
I should have known better but I just couldn’t take not knowing what was happening out there. The door burst open and I fell to the floor in rapid succession. A dark figure, seemingly made of mist, stood in the doorway.
He seemed to hold no shape, constantly contorting to ever trick my eyes. I heard a low hum, and smelled smoke although it somehow seemed fouler than usual. I scurried back, a mouse scurrying for its home. But there was no where for me. Only the back of the compartment.
The figure edged towards me, the items in its way simply seemed to vanish in its wake. A wispy tendril reached out in front of my face, searching. I looked down at my hand that had suddenly become white hot. I could feel my flesh writhing under my skin. The white hot pain completely enveloped my brain and I dropped the necklace.
Sudden relief washed over me, just as I heard:
“Don’t drop it!”
I panicked as I realized what was happening. The tendril grew stiff, and darted straight towards my face, as if finally able to figure my location. A cold sensation washed over my face. As I remember it, it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. It just felt like a cool breeze on my face, but I could feel a mounting terror in my heart. Something I’d never really felt before back home. I was scared of many things, but true terror had not yet entered my heart. The figure pulled away as the fear grew unbearable and I felt as if my heart were going to explode from tension.
As dust fell on my face, and I realized my eyes were closed. I opened them and saw the man from before standing over me holding a blanket, with which he quickly wrapped me in. He picked me up, but I resisted remembering the necklace and that it had protected me. I reached for it, grabbing at the air. Then I felt its warm touch again in my the soft creases of my palm. And I slept.